Sunday, October 01, 2006

Can kids have "too much of a good thing" with school activities?

At a parent coffee morning last month, the school counselors divided us into groups based on our interest in various teen topics, ranging from internet safety to substance abuse. One of the topics that garnered the most interest: helping kids maintain a balanced life.

The overall feeling was that students were being crushed under heavy schedules of academics, sports, clubs, and other activities.

Well, maybe parents can rest easy, based on a yet-to-be-published study by Yale psychologist Joseph Mahoney. In his research, "Organized Activity Participation, Positive Development, and the Over-Scheduling Hypothesis," Mahoney finds that:

"...the more time children spend in organized activities, the better their grades, self-esteem, and relationship with parents and the lower the incidence of substance abuse. Even high school students with more than 20 hours of activities a week don't suffer for it, he says. The study defines organized activities as adult-led and having a purpose. It includes community service and after-school programs, as well as music, religious education, and sports."

"'Based on our data, it's difficult to argue that parents should limit participation,' Mahoney says." (Click here to read an article by Boston Globe reporter Barbara F. Meltz that discusses Mahoney's research. Via the edu-blog


At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the research. I think keeping kids on an active schedule is a good thing and trains them to manage time and activities in a more focused manner. It also prevents mind-wasting time spent in from of the TV.

Interestingly, there also is research indicating that the level of participation in activities at large schools tends to be lower, while student participation in activities tends to be higher at smaller schools. Optimum school sizes tend to be about 400 for elementary, 400-500 for Middle School, and about 900 for high schools.

One could conclude, therefore, that the three are connected: lots of activities at small schools is optimum.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Cheryl van Tilburg said...

Dear Anonymous,

I agree with the research, too. My mother-in-law always says, "If a child has time on his hands, he's got time to get in trouble!"

JIS does an amazing job in offering kids a broad spectrum of opportunities for after-school activities. And this research indicates that the hard work of the campus activities directors will pay off academically as well as socially for our students. So kudos to them -- and JIS!

Thanks so much for your comment.


Post a Comment

<< Home